Nini Huang: I guess the most obvious question is: why did you feel the need to set up Visit My Studio?
Emil Tetzner-Harris: We’ve noticed that the art world can feel like an exclusive place. There is a lack of real opportunity to learn from or speak with people inside the field without having connections or prior knowledge. This invisible barrier has really made us question the existing norm of the art world because it discourages people to explore. Isn’t it about time to break this barrier as we head into 2021?
Visit My Studio brings you in direct contact with friendly artists, no matter your background or level of art knowledge. You can ask them about their work and lifestyle, their experiences in the industry, or even buy an original piece of art.
Nini: So Visit My Studio is a platform for people to connect with artists — that’s it?
Emil: Well, yes and no. Our main mission is to help people connect meaningfully and intimately with the artists themselves, but it’s not just about connecting for the sake of connecting. We hope that the connection itself can be a starting point for both visitors and artists to learn from each other and get inspired.
Nini: How exactly can people use Visit My Studio’s website?
Emil: Our platform is meant to make it convenient and comfortable for people to start conversations with artists. With the click of a few buttons, people can instantly book a virtual studio visit with any artist on our platform they might fancy. You can also just browse through our website and see who you find!
If you’re an artist, you’ll create a profile that will showcase who you are and what you do. You’ll also be able to meet your audience and get paid for your time and efforts in the process.
If visitors are interested in buying a piece of art after your virtual visit, then that’s a full bonus to the artists! Unlike commercial galleries, we don’t charge any commission of sales whatsoever. Actually, visitors would be helping to finance their favorite art and artists just by booking a virtual visit on our platform. So it’s a win-win situation: we help visitors to initiate conversations with artists, and artists themselves get paid for their time.
Nini: Is your platform for everyone?
Emil: Simply put, yes, anyone can use Visit My Studio.We think that art is a conversation EVERYONE should feel comfortable having.
Visit My Studio is especially useful to those who already have an interest in the art world, like art students, freelance curators, art journalists etc. Emerging artists and aspiring art world professionals would also find our platform valuable as they can directly speak to established artists.
But we also really want to encourage people who are not familiar with art to use Visit My Studio. It doesn’t matter what relationship you have with art, anyone who is interested can get something out of speaking candidly with artists.
Nini: How do we know that the artists are legitimate on Visit My Studio — do you filter anyone out?
Emil: We’ve met with every single artist on our platform, so we know that they’re not just legitimate, but also super friendly!
All prospective artists apply through our website via a process of registration and verification, which is supported by our payment partner, Stripe. We also don’t fully register an artist until we have met them ourselves. We wouldn’t just take any artist on board. But we’re also trying to design the platform to be as open as possible. This means that we don’t discriminate based on country, art genre, gallery representation etc.
Nini: But how would the visitors know which artists to book? How would we know if the artists — or their art — is any good?
Emil: It’s not Visit My Studio’s job to be art critics or art dealers.
In fact, we want to give some power back to the audiences: after they have spoken with an artist, they should be able to judge for themselves whether or not the art or artist was any good.
Nini: Wait, it sounds like you want to make everyone an art critic? That could really ruffle a few feathers…
Emil: We might be getting a bit controversial here, which is maybe a good thing, so hear me out.
We are just trying to give art audiences a place to make their voices hear. Our opinions and feedback do matter — not just to us but also to the artists on our platform.
That’s why we are implementing a review system for Visit My Studio. If you enjoyed connecting with an artist, great! Tell them how much you appreciated the conversation and make their day. Did you feel like an artist was not as engaged as they could have been? Well, the artists are also learning about this new format of interaction the same way as all of us. So wouldn’t it be nice to let them know how they could improve the experience for other visitors?
Our end goal is to build a community around art conversations. Essentially, we are trying to break all barriers of entry into this mystical place known as the “art world”. We want to make art not just more accessible for everyone, but hopefully more exciting and collaborative as well!